Meredith Woo

Academic and Administrator

About Meredith Woo

A scholar and academic leader, Meredith Woo was educated at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, graduating with magna cum laude in History. She studied International Affairs and Latin American Studies, and received her PhD in Political Science, all from Columbia University.


The daughter of a Korean diplomat, Meredith Woo was a student at a Spanish Catholic high school in Tokyo when she came across a beautiful photograph in National Geographic of a house in Maine, shuttered for the winter. She brought the photo to one of the nuns to ask where it had been taken. Her answer, as well as the information that Nathaniel Hawthorne had graduated from Bowdoin College, led Meredith Woo to complete her undergraduate studies there.

Meredith Woo spent the first twelve years of her teaching career at Northwestern University, where she co-founded the Center for International and Comparative Studies. In 2001, she joined the faculty at the University of Michigan, where she served as professor of Political Science, and Associate Dean for Social Sciences in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

From 2008 to 2014, Meredith Woo served as Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia. Arriving at a time of transition and economic recession, she guided the College and Graduate School on a new course. Initiatives in the sciences and global studies, critical faculty hires, and a boom in external funding have enhanced its national and international stature. During her tenure, the College and Graduate School launched the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures, the Quantitative Collaborative, the Asia Institute, the Joint Institute between the College, Peking University, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. She oversaw the construction of five new buildings -- South Lawn, the Hunter Smith Band Building, the Ruth Caplin Theatre, the Physical and Life Sciences Building, and research facilities at Blandy Experimental Lab -- and the renovation of the 170,000 sq. ft New Cabell Building.

She has also raised a total of more than $250 million in new commitments during her deanship.

She has authored or edited seven books, and was producer of the documentary, Koryosaram -- a film about Stalin's deportation of Soviet Koreans to Kazakhstan during the Great Terror. It received the best documentary award by the National Film Board of Canada.

She has worked with the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) in Tokyo, and consulted widely with the World Bank, IMF, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) in Helsinki, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) in Geneva, the Rajawalli Foundation in Jakarta, among others. She was also appointed by President Clinton to serve on Presidential Commission on US-Pacific Trade and Investment Policy (1996 - 1998).

Other than English, she speaks fluent Korean, Japanese; and reads Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese.

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